Singing Birds

Cage with singing bird and clock

    Cage with singing bird and clock

    France, Paris

    Circa 1880

    Bontems, Blaise

    Steel, wood, leather, fabric, enamel, brass, painted feathers; gilding, casting, gold plating, mechanical and carpentry work

    48.75 x 30 x 22.5 cm

    On the plate: “BONTEMS”, “INT”, “RUN”, “STOP”


    The cage is in the form of a house with two-tear “walls” and a gable roof, made of goldish metal rods, with mascaron and wings on ornately shaped metal onlay on the pediment. A door with tension clip is on the front side bottom tier. Wire rods of this door and front side upper tier are connected pairwise in the middle. The cage is mounted on goldish wooden rectangular base with embossed polished frames on lateral panels, on four supports. White enamel clock dial with Arabic numerals for hours’ designation, minute divisions, two hands and winding hole is on the front panel with pearl-shaped beads bezel. Onlay in the form of laurel wreath with bow is on the left lateral panel. Metal stand with crossbar, decorated with all kind of berries, fruit and leaves is on the covered with light brown velvet base upper panel. A bird in motley brownish plumage with yellow-black wings and long tail sits on the crossbar. Clock movement and cam mechanism with bellows, piccolo pipe and spring drive are fixed inside the base.

    Winding hole with the key and lever for three positions: turning on/off and changing the singing bird mode is one the right lateral side. The plate with the inscription “BONTEMS” and the bird functioning modes is below the winding hole. When the movement is winded and activated the bird emits trills continuously or intermittently, depending on the selected mode, opening and closing its beak, turning the head and moving its tail. The key for winding the bird’s movement is in the set.